Dry hire venues are really popular with couples who want a wedding that is totally “them” without the restrictions of a traditional wedding venue, whether that be on food, booze, or just the general vibe. I love working on dry hire weddings, whether that’s a London warehouse or a marquee in the family garden, but I do always warn my couples to keep an eye on their budget! A dry hire wedding is definitely not cheaper, and in a lot of cases, can definitely be more expensive… but obviously the upside is you get to have a totally unique wedding (and party!), with every element hand picked and designed by you.
Here is my guide to the hidden costs you might not have considered for a dry hire wedding, so you can avoid any pitfalls! Or at least budget accordingly!
Dry hire venues vary massively in what is included in the cost. When you view the venue and get a quote, make sure you ask the venue exactly what is covered by the price. If you’re getting married in the winter, is the heating included? (Honestly! You’ll be surprised!) Does the cost cover a late license? When you view the venue, there may be some additional decor like fairy lights that either just happen to be left from another wedding or are provided by the venue at an additional cost, so it’s always worth checking these details. Dry hire in its truest form at a lot of the venue’s I work at in London, usually means you basically just get the bricks and mortar of the building and doesn’t usually include anything else (hence why people come to me to help manage it!), but lots of venues now are offering up-sells or add-ons to their dry hire offering, and some have different packages that include varying degrees of dry hire elements.
VAT is also a big one, do check whether it’s included in the price or not!
If your dry hire venue is a field rather than a building, you might well avoid some of the costs like cleaning or additional hire time but you will have other boring but important things to consider like running water, toilets, and possibly a generator for electricity. Any heating and lighting will also probably need to be brought in.
Some venues don’t include staff costs in their basic quotes, as it may depend on how dry hire your package is. And just how dry hire your wedding is. You may have to pay for cleaning, particularly if you only have the venue for the day of your wedding and cleaning has to take place overnight. Depending on the venue’s license, you may also need security guards and this may be an additional cost.
If the venue is only yours for the day, everything will have to be removed once the partying is over. Given that you want your best people to have a great night and be off duty, you might need to hire some help to pack down or pay extra to have the venue for some time the next day to finish the clear up.
Obviously I’m biased, but I highly recommend that you consider a wedding coordinator (as a min), but really a planner tbh, who will oversee everything on the day and keep everything on track. This kind of oversight is absolutely invaluable at a dry hire venue and it’s a great idea to factor this into your budgeting from the beginning. Cleaning and staff to run your bar etc might be obvious, but a host, FOH, and general manager on the day is something that’s so easy to overlook when booking a dry hire venue, so I would definitely advise you consider a coordinator as a minimum who can umbrella these missing roles!
Whatever kind of venue you plump for, catering is likely to be a big chunk of your budget. It will be one of your biggest overall costs. Between your venue and caterer, it’s always a good idea to search out any hidden costs. Lots of dry hire venues (and of course marquees) don’t have much kitchen equipment on site and this all needs to be hired in by the caterer. You may even need to consider a unit outside or a gazebo if there is not space for the catering equipment inside. Your caterer will add all of this on to your final invoice.
Rubbish disposal is also a big one. If the venue doesn’t include waste disposal, check whether this is something your caterer will take care of, or whether this will be your responsibility and cost. Sometimes caterers will be responsible for their own waste, but not anything to do with the bar (if they are not managing it) or decor – which can mount up easily.
Whether your venue is a warehouse or a field, you are going to want things for people to sit on! If you’re getting married in a venue, check whether they have chairs and tables for your use or whether you will need to hire these in. It’s likely in a marquee setting that you will need to – but a lot of marquee companies offer this as an add on also.
You’ll want to think about chairs for the ceremony, tables and chairs for dining, and there are other things to consider like trestle tables which might be needed by your caterers and a table for your cake, cards/gifts and guest book, as well as possibly some soft lounge type seating depending on your vibe
If you’re hiring in various things like furniture and more decorative items, you should be able to save some money by hiring everything from one company and reducing delivery costs.
Depending on the agreement with your caterer, you might have some additional costs for your bar. You might need to hire staff in separately and possibly also hire glassware and service equipment. Lots of bar companies offer packages where they provide all the alcohol and soft drinks for a set fee and this then includes staff and equipment, but if you are buying the booze yourself, you will want to be aware of any and all the costs associated with it being served! (Spoiler, it’s not worth it!)
Gone are the days when a cheap booze cruise to France meant an easy free bar at your wedding! Nowadays (thanks to Brexit, and the rising cost of… well, everything), that’s not an option and you certainly can’t do it cheaper than a bar company when you add up staffing, bar hire, bottle disposal, and all your glassware…
It’s possible that your venue may also charge corkage, even if it is a dry hire venue (I know, ridiculous since this is the true meaning of dry hire, but it happens), so this is worth checking. Again, check whether disposing of all those empty bottles will be at your cost, too.
As you can see, there are lots of possible costs you might need to consider for a dry hire wedding, and luckily for you, dry hire weddings are my jam! So if you’re looking for fun, flexible wedding planning or on the day coordination services, do get in touch!
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